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Campus Free-Speech Crisis

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Campus Free-Speech Crisis

April 30, 2018
Education

Heather Mac Donald—bestselling author, City Journal contributing editor, and Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute—joins John Stossel to talk about the free-speech crisis on college campuses and how identity politics is consuming the nation’s top universities.

Last year, a campus conservative group invited Mac Donald to speak at Claremont McKenna College in California about her book, The War on Cops. Hundreds of protesters surrounded the auditorium where she was to speak, preventing many students from entering and forcing Mac Donald to deliver her address to a near-empty space. Many other conservative speakers have had similar experiences on campuses in recent years.   

Under intense pressure from student activists to limit “hate speech,” college administrators can either acquiesce to demands or face protests. Many choose to acquiesce. As Mac Donald wrote last year: “Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.”

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This video is part of a special collaboration with John Stossel and City Journal contributors.  

Video Transcript

John Stossel: At American colleges today, are conservative ideas allowed?

Protesters: Shut it down! Shut it down!

JS: These students at Claremont College are angry because Heather Mac Donald was invited to speak. Mac Donald is a Manhattan Institute scholar who wrote the book “The War on Cops”. She argues that Americans are less safe because police, for fear of being called racist, back off.

Heather Mac Donald: Thank you for your listening.

JS: At UCLA, she was allowed to give her “Blue Lives matter” speech, and many in the audience applauded. They did let you finish your speech.

HM: And then they stormed the stage.

Protesters: Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here!

JS: First they just shouted, drowning out any possible questions.

Protesters: Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here!

JS: It has a party atmosphere. Some kids are smiling as they’re turning the camera around and taping each other.

Protesters: Black lives, they matter here!

HM: Now it’s almost an expectation that if you’re a minority student on campus, you’re there to protest.

JS: Eventually the protesters took over the stage. From UCLA, Mac Donald went to Claremont College. There, she was met with posters saying: Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald!

HM: This is preposterous. I have spent enormous amount of time in high crime, minority neighborhoods talking to the good people there who are desperate for more police, who have a right to expect the same freedom from fear as people in safer neighborhoods take for granted. My agenda is to try to give voice to these people. To say that I’m Anti-Black is ridiculous.

JS: Nevertheless, activists formed a blockade in front of the lecture hall.

Protesters: Black lives matter!

JS: They prevented anybody that had planned to hear me from entering.

Student Host: Joining us tonight is Heather Mac Donald.

JS: Strangely, Mac Donald’s student host proceeded as if the hall were full of students. But it’s just the two of you in the room.

HM: It was quite odd.

JS: Mac Donald’s speech to the empty room was recorded for the internet, but no students could ask questions because they couldn’t get past this protest.

Protesters: Shut it down, shut it down, shut it down!

JS: There’s a school newspaper reporter going around with a camera trying to get opinions from people and instead of expressing their viewpoint, they put their hand in front of his camera.

School Reporter: I’m with the Claremont Independent, and I’m wondering if you might be willing to just tell me anything at all. I’m with the . . . ok, alright.

HM: The people exercising what is clearly historically fascist behavior, which is in the case of the Berkeley riots, vandalizing, breaking glass, setting fires, beating people up, that they go under the moniker anti-fascist.

JS: Yeah, they call you a fascist.

HM: They called me a fascist. I have not tried to silence anybody.

Ronald Reagan: The atmosphere is one of academic freedom.

JS: Ronald Reagan once called Claremont a place that fostered discussion and debate.

Ronald Reagan: Learn to deal with controversy in both politics and economics.

JS: No more, says Mac Donald in this City Journal article titled From Culture to Cupcakes.

HM: College once promoted an understanding of Western culture. Today, there is an enormous bureaucratic infrastructure dedicated to teaching students that they’re victims.

JS: She calls that the Diversity Bureaucracy. What do you mean Diversity Bureaucracy?

HM: UCLA has a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. That Vice Chancellor makes $445,000 dollars a year. The Berkeley Division of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has a $20 million-dollar budget.

Implicit Bias Graphic: Our biases disproportionately benefit certain groups and harm others.

HM: There’s a co-dependency between the exploding diversity bureaucracy and these narcissistic, delusional students who act out little psycho dramas of oppression before an appreciative audience of diversity bureaucrats.

JS: Psycho dramas of oppression?

HM: Absolutely, these students . . .

JS: They think they’re oppressed.

HM: They think they’re oppressed. Do we believe in objective reality? Is anybody allowed to say that they are not oppressed?

Protesters: Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down!

JS: They sincerely, I think, believe this is a racist society, there’s the history of racism in America, that it’s stacked against them by us white people.

HM: But I take issue with the unthinking charge that we remain racist today.

JS: But we white people run Western society. We have a head start. We have the most money. It’s not fair.

HM: Develop some sense of perspective. You have at your fingertips, every book that has ever been written, you’re surrounded by a beautiful campus. These students, who are among the most privileged human beings in human history, to be at an American college with educational resources available to them, that the Renaissance Humanists would have killed for, actually think of themselves as victims. And that, to me, is a very sad state of delusion.

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